You’re probably wondering, what is Jill doing back in Canada?!
Well, after nine months of thrills and some of the best weeks of my life, I woke up one morning in April and thought to myself why the hell am I leaving Canada? I have so much left to do here!
I longingly wanted to experience the Canadian summer. Actual heat during June and July is a concept very much lost on my Scottish self. It is a beautiful thing. Most days are in the high twenties (degrees Celsius). Any time I’m talking to someone from home and I tell them about the weather, I always get the same shock and awe responses; are you kidding me?! I am so jealous. It’s how hot?!
I brag about my almost-kinda-sorta tan. And by tan I mean that my freckles have come out in full force and from a distance you could maybe trick yourself into thinking my skin was slightly less milk-bottle than usual. Every day I spend time outside; cycling, playing frisbee, messing about in the river, walking my friend’s dog, BBQ’s, reading in the park, and even stargazing.
I haven’t even mentioned how alive the city is in the summer. Last weekend there were EIGHT, I repeat, EIGHT festivals happening in the town. We had Jazz Fest, Glow Fair, Fringe Fest, Ribfest, Dragon Boat Festival, Hintonburg Happenings, and the Summer Solstice Aborignal Arts Festival. And that’s not to mention all the many and bizarre events going on outside of the festivals; Electric Pow Wow‘s, Spoken Word Slam Nights, and Zine Off‘s.
This place is crazy and awesome and my days are flooded with things to do and experience.
Last week, among other things, I went to a board game cafe called Monopolatte with Caroline and her friend. The coffee shop had over eight hundred games to choose from and the employees could teach almost all of them, at your request. The cafe had every board game you could think of; Firefly, Sex and the City, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc. We ended up playing Urban Myth and Ticket To Ride, both of which I had never heard of before.
On a different day, my friend Ellen and I went to the Franco-Ontarian Festival and sunbathed at the Pique-Nique Africain, listening to French African music and watching families from many cultures having fun together. Then we got our picture taken with a bunch of rescued parrots who were the sweetest and calmest birds I have ever met.
A few days later, I experienced my first ever improv show (which is apparently a big thing in Canada) with my friend Michelle as part of the Fringe Festival. And I loved every moment. The show was performed as the storyline of Aladdin, except an audience member picked a card from a hat and each card held a different genre. And the performers had to act out the show in which ever genre was chosen. On that particular evening the actors performed Aladdin as… an office drama. Yes, it was as awesome and pun-filled and hilarious as it sounds. There was a magic brief case, Genie was a consultant, Jasmine was the bosses secretary, Aladdin was a minimum wage intern who wished to be a CEO. The puns flew from the actors mouths faster than we could register. A whole new
Image credit to GRIMprov
As part of Glow Fair, I wandered down Bank Street at 12am on Saturday night and took in all the strange and wonderful things along the way. This is the Glow Fair’s first year in Ottawa and it was a huge success. Volunteers spent days decorating the streets with thousands of lights and colours and setting up outside cinemas and silent discos. The free-admission event took place over three days and the public reveled in entertainment by drag queens, street artists and over thirty musical performances. And on Saturday, as part of the Fair, I partied at a Queer Mafia club night in Babylon. The atmosphere was upbeat and inviting and I was surrounded by so many beautiful queer men and women and everyone in between. Walking home at 3am I joined hundreds of people who were outside bathing in the afterglow (pun intended) of an awesome night.
Photograph credit to Alexander Vlad, Glow Fair
The culture here is endless fun, but I also do normal non-touristy things with my time. Things that are only made possible for me by the generous offers from my Canadian friends (of which I am eternally grateful). The week before last, I ate dinner with Jack’s lovely family after his graduation. And another day I listened to Michelle’s brother as he played tuba in a high school performance. On Friday I caught up with my cottage friends at Kevin’s birthday party in Hull, Quebec. In the past, I’ve been to friend’s highland dancing competitions, thanksgiving dinners, Easter family lunches, classmates’ nights out, birthday parties etc. And it’s only in retrospect I realise that all the exciting experiences are incredible and thrilling, but the normal stuff matters too and often it is those things which make you feel truly at home in a foreign country.